|I first became aware of the existence of this somewhat obscure upland enclosure through retrospectively trying to relate the 1:25K OS map to images taken upon Llawlech a decade back. However it's fair to say the c2 mile walk-in from the west was a bit off-putting. But there you are.... eventually the site rose to the top of the bad weather list.
Needless to say events did not exactly go to plan -do they ever? - the discovery of an extensive, unmarked cairnfield to the immediate west ensuring I arrive a couple of hours later than anticipated. However it is worth the wait, the hill fort proving to be a substantial structure crowning the southern end of a prominent rocky ridge running across the valley, that is between the overwhelming mass of Moelfre to the north and the Afon Ysgethin to the south.
Approaching from the aforementioned wondrous cairnfield I find a very well built (modern) drystone field wall blocking the direct route. Fortuitously, as it happens, since the easiest option is clearly (duh!) to return to the track and approach along the ridge itself, this manoeuvre allowing the traveller an opportunity to discern how the surface rock almost approximates a natural 'cheveux de frise' arrangement, albeit a bit of a chaotic version. Yeah, it doesn't take that much imagination (luckily) to determine the effect such a landscape would have had upon a cavalry - or infantry - charge back in the day, particularly with additional dry stone outworks covering the approach. Morever, according to Coflein, it appears the main entrance was to the south-east, thus ensuring the task of a storming party was even more difficult:
"Craig-y-Dinas, which crowns a prominent outcrop, is a stone walled polygonal hillfort some 75m x 40m with outworks extending 14m to the north-east. It has extensive entrance works to the south-east where stone clearance and walling for an approach trackway can be traced for about 80m to the east and about 107m to the south-east of the hillfort entrance. RCAHMW, April 2009"
There is a significant volume of drystone rampart still remaining in situ here, far more than I expected, to be honest. Yeah, a ghostly shell of an ancient enclosure, garrisoned nowadays by none save an occasional wandering sheep or carrion crow, the sole enemy the inclement weather. However it is the dramatic location which really impresses, the view eastward encompassing the bare, 2000ft plus summits of the southern Rhinogydd rising above the Afon Ysgethin, the river forded in the middle distance by the enigmatic Pont Ysgethin carrying what was once the major London-Harlech mail coach route through these parts... or so I read somewhere or other some time ago. Hard to believe now, such is the haunting, almost melancholic vibe which appears to fill the valley like invisible temperature inversion. The graceful, yet solidly built arch of the bridge is, in my opinion, well worth a closer look if you can spare the time. As are the mountains themselves, it goes without saying, although unfortunately I haven't come across any ancient cairns upon the main peaks (although the 'pile of stones' at the summit of Moel Ysgyfarnogod to the north did set the Gladman senses a'tingling, to be truthful). To the approx south-east the crags of Llawlech overlook Llyn Erddyn (there is a brace of cairns up there) whilst westwards the enclosure provides a fine panorama of the course of the river flowing to the sea, not to mention that aforementioned extensive cairn-field ignored by all and sundry!
As I sit and 'do lunch'... as one does... subject to the occasional blustery shower sweeping along the valley, my attention is nevertheless inevitably drawn to the north where the swirling cloud base periodically, tantalisingly reveals the massive cairn to the right of the summit of Moelfre. It sure looks a big 'un. Too large for a dedicated Citizen Cairn'd to resist, in fact. So... unwisely, perhaps, I decide to go have a look.
Posted by GLADMAN
12th January 2014ce
Edited 14th January 2014ce